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At last, Benton woman finds fulfillment in art

  • Joy Cash holds her watercolor of a chickadee that she donated to the Benton Public Library Wall of Art. The retired teacher says the painting took her about six hours over a period of three days to complete.

    Joy Cash holds her watercolor of a chickadee that she donated to the Benton Public Library Wall of Art. The retired teacher says the painting took her about six hours over a period of three days to complete.
    Photo by Holly Kee

 
updated: 3/15/2017 2:23 PM

For Joy Cash, coming back home to southern Illinois to care for aging parents also meant the chance to get back to something that she had put on the back burner.

"It finally allowed me to pursue my love of art," Cash says.

After growing up in southern Illinois, Joy and her husband, Charlie, spent more than 30 years in Houston, Texas. While Charlie worked for J.P Morgan, Joy spent 34 years as a primary education teacher.

"Charlie was a big part of my career," says Joy. "He was always there to help and support me."

At one point, Charlie arranged for Joy's school to receive a donation of more than 30 gently-used computers.

"My husband had a real job to support my teaching habit," Joy says with a laugh.

Once the couple retired from their respective careers, they realized that they were needed "back home" to help care for aging parents. At that point, Joy told Charlie, "If I don't get to start painting again, I'm going to explode."

Joy's love of painting that began in high school was something that was mostly put aside while pursuing her career.

"I did teach some art in my elementary classes," she says.

Joy's first action was to find a teacher.

"Spencer Meagher is just an amazing teacher," she says. "I call him 'funtastic.' He's just what the doctor ordered."

Meagher teaches a painting style known as "plein air" that espouses an all-natural approach to creating art.  In this style, the artist leaves the bounds of the studio to reproduce the actual visual conditions of the subject.

Friends of Joy and Charlie have had the pleasure of enjoying Joy's art. For the past few years, the couple's Christmas cards have featured one of Joy's paintings.

A few weeks ago, Joy decided to share her art in a bigger way.

"My dear friend, Ruth Lewis, loves the library," she says.

So Joy decided to donate a watercolor for the library's wall of art display. The painting is now a permanent piece of the collection at the Benton Public Library.

The watercolor, featuring a chickadee Joy painted from a photograph, took her about six hours over a period of three days to complete.

"The background was the hardest," Joy says.

She says that seeing her art in the library "makes me feel like I'm in good company."

"I'm flattered to be included," she says.

However, library patron Phyllis Szymczak, who stopped to admire Joy's painting, has something more to say.

"You're very talented," she says.